Family Support in the Acute Aftermath of Stroke: Guidelines for the Integration of Ambiguous Loss Theory in Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Teams


Emily Laux

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Capstone

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Shelly Smith-Acuña

First Committee Member

Kimberly Gorgens

Second Committee Member

John Holmberg


Ambiguous Loss Theory; stroke; family support; Interdisciplinary Team


Nearly 800,000 people experience cardiovascular accidents, or strokes, in the United States, annually. A growing number of patients survive the acute injury but live with permanently altered physical and cognitive abilities leaving them reliant on family members for informal but professional level care following hospital discharge. The nature of stroke with its often sudden and unexpected onset, combined with the significant functional changes in basic life skills and unclear prognosis for recovery leave the family members confused and overwhelmed. Given these emotional challenges, family members need special support from interdisciplinary teams as they support the recovery process. Ambiguous Loss Theory is introduced as a conceptual frame that can help health care professionals better meet the needs of families engaged in the care of a stroke victim. This paper highlights the ways that psychologists can help interdisciplinary treatment teams utilize Ambiguous Loss Theory to improve their collaboration with caregiving families.


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


39 pages

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